My BBC iPhone notification pinged. Notre Dame was on fire. Cue nauseous feeling, like when the Glasgow College of Art caught on fire - twice. Go to Twitter, look at photos of the flames shooting out of the roof. Burst into tears when the spire falls, and sob for a half hour. Yell, "No!, No!, No!" at my phone.
I look at Slack, to see how my Fast Company colleagues in New York and San Francisco are scrambling to cover this horror with our unique angle. (I work from Florida. That's another story for another day.) Of course we need expert input, so architects/engineers/construction experts are discussed. I suggest my husband. (Hey Scott, who asked the headline question on Facebook: this is how it happened.)
Ed is a construction project manager at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. He is also British-born and raised, having grown up in Essex, and before he went into management, he was a master plasterer. He knows how to parget. He renovated our Edwardian house in Saffron Walden. He also knew how my previous Tudor house was put together, and why the floors were slopey and what those funny carved symbols were by the wooden door frame and fireplace (answer: to ward off evil spirits). He taught me that my old walls were stuffed with horse hair for insulation.
When he and I spoke about Notre Dame, he instantly replied, "Renovations. Happens all the time." So he had a chat with Sean Captain, the writer of what turned out to be a super post. (Sean later quoted him a second time about how Paris could go forward from this tragedy, and bottom line, there's a heck of a lot of safety checks and testing to do before they even begin to plan. IMHO (and Ed's), President Macron's five-year plan is more than a bit ambitious.
So the first Fast Company story goes live, and the clever comms team at USF pick it up. That's where the fun began for Ed, and he got a taste of my world, and how quickly stories can move in media. Within hours, he had an interview scheduled with a radio station in San Francisco, the Tampa Bay Times, and the CBS TV affiliate, who came to our house and filmed him.
I gave him a crash course on being filmed (don't look at the camera; he did anyways, lol), helped him anticipate the questions journos would ask, and made ridiculous charades movements during his phone interviews to help prompt him. It was the first time our career worlds had truly collided, and it was frantic, funny, exciting and slightly stressful.
I always thought Ed and I could never work together; that we'd end up bickering. But we worked as a team, and it was a hell of a lot of fun. I'm also glad he better understands what I do; he's often said it's hard to get what I do all day on my Mac, as it's abstract, where what he builds is concrete (no pun intended).
And it just ever so slightly distracted from the pain of the fire of a beautiful building in a city I know ever so well, and sharing thoughts made us both realise that, in the big picture, this is yet another step in Notre Dame's evolution. It is not gone; it changes again. As it always have, and always will. Kind of like everything in life.